South Austin’s new hiking plan is on the right path.
On the southside of Austin, Texas, there lies a six-mile stretch that was once a part of the Union Pacific Railroad. Running from the Vinson Dr. to US-183 close to the Austin Bergstrom International Airport, the railway formerly served a now-defunct Bergstrom Air Force Base . While the tracks remain “in a state of disrepair” the air force base has been obsolete for many years. Now, the Austin Public Works urban Trails Program and Capital Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (CAMPO) are seeking to turn that area into a public hiking trail.
Last week, the two organizations put out a 129-page report detailing an outline on repurposing the abandoned railway into a 6-mile trail for public use.
“This study helps us explore opportunities within the corridor to connect people in South Austin,” said Richard Mendoza, Austin Public Works Director.
A 2014 Urban Trail Plan released by the same agencies, notes that the Bergstrom Spur trail, classified as a high-priority trail, has the potential to “greatly enhance urban trail access in southwest Austin, to improve connectivity, and to provide a viable route to the airport.”
The recent report carves out a phased opening of 20 years to carry out the complete redevelopment of the trail, pending it meets its funding requirements. The phased reopening corresponds to six trail zones. Zone 1, which anticipates completion by 2025, would run from Vinson Drive toward South Congress Avenue and include an urban trail and shared path from Vinson Road to St. Elmo Road.
Other zones are broken down as such:
Zone 2: I-35 to South Congress Avenue.
Zone 3: Todd Lane to I-35.
Zone 4: East Stassney Lane/Montopolis Drive to Todd Lane.
Zone 5: Progressive Insurance campus to Montopolis Drive, through MetCenter Commercial Park and Lower Colorado River Authority.
Zone 6: 183/ABIA to Progressive Insurance campus.
Over a dozen potential entry points have been plotted for the trail. Some of which would feature parking, bathrooms, water fountains, trail maps, and repair centers.
The full report can be found here.